My husband and I were married for seven years when we started Jonas Paul Eyewear in 2013. When we started our life together, we never imagined going down this path - growing together as wedding photographers to starting a business in the medical field without having any experience in optometry was a huge leap with no shortage of long nights and unwelcomed lessons learned.
I very clearly remember the first conversations with friends and family about our idea of launching Jonas Paul Eyewear. Of course, everyone thought we were in over our heads. Not only did it seem like a large undertaking, but we had just given birth to our son Jonas, who was born with a rare disorder that causes blindness. Needless to say, we had our hands full - constantly in and out of the hospital for 21 eye surgeries that helped Jonas achieve low vision - but amidst it all, we remained devoted to finding a way to make our dreams of launching this business together work.
While the thought of spending literally all your time together may be daunting to some, there are so many unique advantages to tackling business with your life partner that outweigh this silly fear. After all, you go into a marriage knowing you'll be each other's rock - the one who your partner will lean on and come to at life's most trying moments.
If you are able to conquer your days in this way, imagine the power you can harness when applied to your business! Ben and I take pride in our ability to balance our marriage with our business, and oftentimes find ourselves sharing our experiences with others looking to do the same.
Not a day goes by without learning something new, these are the ways we've been able to make loving, working, and living all work.
Define your roles and set boundaries.
Couples have a tendency to micromanage in marriages, so give each other ownership of certain roles from the start, and trust that you'll both do awesome. Early on in our working relationship we sat down and had a heart to heart as we knew we needed to define our roles and responsibilities, we would often find ourselves stepping on each other's toes and questioning one another's work. Once we did this and identified the areas that each of us are strong in, we could then confidently trust the other person and know that the jobs would be completed without having to micromanage one another.
Keep the communication lines open.
We know, this is the opposite of what most say - but it's okay to talk about business on date night! We used to keep it off-limits but it was inevitable, kind of like talking about your child. If you embrace it, you remove the stress of trying to avoid it. We are currently training for a half marathon and we've also found that on our runs we are having our business strategy meetings. An unexpected place and time to talk about business, but it has worked out well. We are exercising while getting work done at the same time. So now we know three mornings a week we have a dedicated time to training and getting some work done. It's a win-win in our book!
Compliments are key
Complementing one another regarding work can be a hard one, as it is easier to encourage our team and the work that they are doing rather than each other. But thankfully, we do try really hard to encourage one another on the work that they are doing as everyone likes to be praised in some way. I truly believe that encouraging your partner (whether at home or work) is extremely important. And for us, sometimes the best time of day to do this is when we get home from the office and are pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner as our kids are running around the house.
It's OK to vent
Being able to vent to one another and know that you aren't going to upset the other person is really helpful when growing a business. This is unique because as business partners, you share the same stressors at work. It's helpful because you can actually relate to these joys and frustrations, whereas couples working in different industries may experience a disconnect. There is no one else that better understands what the other person is going through in our situation, and we've always looked at that as a good thing. Being able to relate on this level, while growing a business has brought us so much closer in our marriage.
So, who says married couples can't make a successful business team? Yes, having a happy marriage alone takes work from both sides - and starting a business together does add to that. It can be hard, it will be hard, but it is amazing what you can accomplish when you work towards a shared mission together. As you take a step back and reflect on the journey, the unparalleled joy you will share with your partner as you fulfill your dreams together will make it all worth it.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.